President Obama has done a great deal for the environment since his inauguration in 2009. Although the President has been criticized for not doing enough on the environmental front he has been constrained by Republican obstructionism in Congress. Given the limitations of his executive powers, Obama has done a great deal for the environment, particularly when you consider the level of denialism we see from the GOP and entrenched interests in the old energy economy. Here is a summary of some of his environmental efforts since taking office and prior to his 2013 budget which he released in February 2012. At the end of this list I have included some of his educational initiatives because education is the key to building a new low carbon economy in the coming decades.
- Worked to make the environment a national priority, and a primary source for job creation
- Laid the groundwork for a new green energy economy
- Attempted to double the amount of renewable energy
- Provided tax credits and loan guarantees to companies the are part of the green economy
- Making more loans available to small businesses including cleantech startups
- Wants producing plants must begin preparing to produce 15% of their energy from renewable sources
- Developed a program for renewable energy projects on the waters of our outer continental shelf to produce electricity from wind, wave, and ocean currents
- Signed Executive Order 13514 that directed Federal Agencies to reduce their greenhouse gas pollution, meet a number of energy, water, and waste reduction targets, and leverage Federal purchasing power to promote environmentally-responsible products and technologies
- Rejected the environmentally destructive Keystone XL pipeline
- Ordered federal transportation officials to develop new federal rules directing automakers to start making more fuel-efficient cars
- Enacted fuel efficiency standards that will reduce emissions by will requiring cars and light trucks manufactured in the US to get 54.5 mpg by 2025
- Allowed states to enact higher standards than those mandated by the Federal government
- Saved the American automotive industry by making GM restructure before bailing them out, and putting incentive money to help the industry build greener cars
- Encouraged GM to make more fuel efficient cars that helped the company to once again be the world’s largest automaker
- Provided tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles
- Implemented the cash for clunkers program offered vouchers to trade in fuel inefficient, polluting old cars for new cars
- Saved the economy from collapse by providing a $789 billion economic stimulus plan known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which has helped to create green jobs
- Sought to build a new electrical grid
- Increased research funding for science and research labs (including research related to climate change and the green economy)
- Ended previous practice of having White House aides rewrite scientific and environmental rules, regulations, and reports
- Ended previous policy of not regulating and labeling carbon dioxide emissions
- Launched Recovery.gov to track spending from the Recovery Act, an unprecedented step to provide transparency and accountability through technology
- Launched Business.gov – enabling conversation and online collaboration between small business owners, government representatives and industry experts in discussion forums relevant to starting and managing a business. Great for the economy.
- Increased infrastructure spending (roads, bridges, power plants…) after years of neglect
- Made education a national priority by putting emphasis and money behind new ideas like charter schools.
- Increased student loans
- Protected 300,000 education jobs, such as teachers, principals, librarians, and counselors through the Recovery Act that would have otherwise been lost.
- New funds for school construction including green schools
© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
President Obama’s 2013 Environmental Budget
Clean Energy Excerpts of President Obama’s State of the Union Speech
Environmental Politics: Obama Versus the Republican Presidential Hopefuls
Highlights of Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Address: Clean Energy, Electric Vehicles and Eliminating Oil Subsidies
Obama’s National Goal of One Million EVs by 2015
The Renewable Energy Standard
Excerpts from President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union Address
Obama Renews His Commitments to Clean Energy and Small Business
Obama Makes Good on Executive Order to Reduce the Federal Government’s GHGs